Katie Ryan ‘s odissi manch pravesh on 10th May 2009 was yet another landmark in the south Asian classical dance scene which certainly proved that Indian classical dance or music is not restricted to people of only Indian heritage or belonging to the Sub-continent.
Katie’s performance demonstrated that dance has no barrier and that the only attributes needed are strict discipline, hard work and passion for the art. Katie showed extreme fluidity in her dance and good knowledge of the rhythmic pattern. She held well in her sculpturous body postures and the three bends of the body (tribhanghi) the main features of odissi. Her mudras were crisp and she executed the pure dance pieces with freshness of spring-in-the-air.
The highlight of the evening was her performance of the third expressional piece Jaydeva’s Shrita Kamala where she brought invigorating energy and life to the stories. Katie caught the attention of the audience with full grip during this piece with sheer dynamism, humble yet charismatic stage presence. Expressional pieces have always been a weak point in Indian classical dance for westerners but Katie was an exception to this rule, indicative of her tutelage and rigorous training under Guru Shankar Behera and stalwarts of the odissi world like Madhavi Mudgal. With further guidance and training of odissi masters, Katie certainly has the potential to emerge as a strong odissi dancer from outside India.
Katie was accompanied by a group of young but talented, budding musicians. The vocal accompaniment in particular by Ranjana Ghatak, student of Pundit Ajoy Chakrabarthy, was excellent. Ranjana is a student of Shruti Nandan, Kolkatta which has the reputation of developing a strong voice culture. Young Manthan Mehta on pakhawaj, student of Saptak, Ahmadabad and senior artist violinist Dr Jyotsna Srikanth displayed a depth of talent.